Jr High Drop Out

Let me introduce myself

I'm a stone lotus
With Zen focus
Sounds calm
But don't get me wrong
I'm biblically bad like Moses'
Swarms of frogs and locusts

See this kid is
More vicious
Than Sid is
From the sex pistols
So drop your bombs
I'll palm them for parts
And build missiles
Intercontinental ballistic
Off goes your warning bells and whistles

Sure I can rhyme in double time off the top of my dome
Spitting fire like a beast made of beats and bone

But I ain't here to play games
I'm here to slay names
I'm here to gain fame
I see the fear in your eyes
Your disguise
Is hard to maintain


#poetry

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

My Office Sand Garden

They follow’d from the snowy bank
The footmarks, one by one,
Into the middle of the plank,
And further there were none.


#poetry #art #work

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

The world is half created and half perceived

Never mistake which half you are viewing.


#poetry

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

John Dryden

He trudged along unknowing what he sought, And whistled as he went, for want of thought.

#quotes #poetry #me

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock By T. S. Eliot

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
      So how should I presume?


#poetry

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

What evil lurks in the hearts of men?

"Words, like nature, half reveal and half conceal the soul within." - Tennyson


#me #poetry #comics

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

Ross Clark, just after rain

just after rain
when the water lies hesitant and pure
on the roads and footpaths
and a few cars still have their lights on just after rain
when the frontyard trees sweat the last drops
from their chlorophyll brows
and the air is promise-crammed and light
and there are apparently more towers
in the distant city-centre than before just after rain
when the pets emerge from under houses
and overlong browsers from within shops… just after rain
we breathe in deeply and effortlessly
we enjoy watching where we put our feet
as we jaunt home just after rain
there is no other time that is not
just after rain-


#poetry #quotes

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

 "Happiness is a p

[two rocks and a cup of water]

Image by [noone] via Flickr

Sitting on a lumpy seat
Holding her cup of water.
Nothing else could be as sweet
As this moment with my daughter.

The rush of the world makes it easy to forget the important things. It's good to get an occasional reminder of the things that make everything else matter.


#Family #Philosophy #Poetry

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

 "Happiness is a p

title:

#Family #Philosophy #Poetry

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

 "Happiness is a p

If you don't know what Filemover or Lifeline are, don't be surprised. This is an inside joke.

This, too, has passed.  Like all things doomed to die,
Filemover's hundred moving parts in a thousand pieces lie.
Tales be told and songs be sung,
The drum be beat and the bell be rung.
We have crushed Filemover and seen it driven before us,
Let the lamentations of its women be our cheerful chorus!
“It's dead!  It's dead!”, let them wail; let them moan.
The crops it now reaps are the seeds its incompetence hath sown.
For my part, I lift a cup in celebration of its fate,
And pray that Lifeline, its better son, ne'er warrants this much hate.


#Humor #Poetry #Work #Writing

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

 "Happiness is a p

title:

#Humor #Poetry #Work #Writing

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

UFC 131: The party is in full swing!

I'm going city to city - i'm already lost. Tell the boss who is new in town.
I'll ride this horse ‘til it it bucks me off and i'm forced to shoot it down.
I'll take him out for some gasoline. Trade this cow for some magic beans.
Gonna make mom proud of the deals that I made, 'cause I'm just a modern day Johnny Appleseed


#Poetry #Work

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

UFC 131: The party is in full swing!

title:

#Poetry #Work

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

UFC 131: The party is in full swing!

tags:

#Poetry #Work

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

UFC 131: The party is in full swing!

Media_httpstatic4busi_qfqbd

A Bitcoin-only site for the purchase of drugs. Pretty slick technology for anonymized transactions, too.


#Poetry #Work

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

Cheesy biscuits are currently being consumed

… but here
Farr otherwise, transported I behold,
Transported touch; here passion first I felt,
Commotion strange, in all enjoyments else
Superiour and unmov'd, here onely weake
Against the charm of Beauties powerful glance.
Or Nature faild in mee, and left some part
Not proof enough such Object to sustain,
Or from my side subducting, took perhaps
More then enough; at least on her bestow'd
Too much of Ornament, in outward shew
Elaborate, of inward less exact. (Paradise Lost VIII:528-539)

Rather than accept that Adam was at fault for his own lust, he blames, first God and then Eve herself. Typical dude.


#Poetry #Quote #Religion

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

Cheesy biscuits are currently being consumed

title:

#Poetry #Quote #Religion

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

Cheesy biscuits are currently being consumed

I can feel change breathing,
Chest heaving,
Pressing on the fabric of the evening.

Standing up. Breath in.


#Poetry

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

Cheesy biscuits are currently being consumed

title:

#Poetry

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

Forward

Let's take a look how our life is evolving.
Cellphones for talking. Segways for walking.
Love technology. The speed of life's moving.
Day in. Day out. Everything's improving.
Change must happen. Don't be so cautious.
What have we done? Let's talk about progress.


#poetry #writing #technology

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

'Twas the night before Christmas…

…and, all through the house, the only things stirring were my keyboard and mouse.


#holidays #poetry

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

With liberties from Paradise Lost Book I, 38-44

[Tom] was aspiring
To set himself in glory above his peers,
He trusted to have equalled the Most High,
If he opposed, and with ambitious aim
Against the throne and monarchy of God,
Raised impious war in Heaven and battle proud,
With vain attempt.

#me #religion #poetry

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

Ella Wheeler Wilcox from Voice of the Voiceless

"So many gods
So many creeds
That wind and wind,
While just the art
Of being kind
Is all the sad world needs."

#quotes #poetry #religion

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

My daughter's first poem


#poetry #family

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

Change is the only constant

I watch the great world spin forever down the ringing grooves of change.


#philosophy #poetry

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

Wordsworth

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

#poetry #quotes

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám by Edward Fitzgerald

But helpless pieces in the game He plays upon this chequer-board of Nights and Days He hither and thither moves, and checks … and slays, then one by one, back in the closet lays. The Moving Finger writes: and, having writ, moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.

#poetry #quotes

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

Current Mood: Buzzing

Tom is plugged in. Online. Jacked up. Fucked up. T1 line in. Media upchuck. Mankind. MetalSoul. Info blackhole. Lord Almighty, flood this rathole. Byte-sized. ArkSafe. Hi-Tech Street Waif. Who cares anyway? Why should I pray? Lead in. Lead out. Have faith. Have doubt. Talk loud. Don't shout.


#poetry #technology #me

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

A random snippet

I thought I saw you yesterday But I didn't stop, 'cause you were walkin' the other way I guess I coulda' shouted out your name But even if it was you, I don't know what I would say.


#poetry

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

A reminder to myself

Beaten back. Beaten down.
Busted body scraped the ground.
Cut and crushed, wounded cries,
A bloody face with daring eyes.
I'll rise again on trembling knee.
You can't beat the Will from me.

Sometimes, the reason needn't be deeper than spite.


#poetry #writing

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

Tivo is dead. Long live Tivo.

I've ordered my Tivo Series 3. Have you ordered yours? I requested Next Day Air, because I must have this before the weekend hits. Following is my epic "Ode to Tivo":

Roses are red.
My devotion is spastic.
My Series One is dead,
But Series Three is fantastic.

I should submit that masterwork to the American Poetry Review.


#technology #tv #poetry

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

My untitled happy snippet

Now peep the wild things from their dark places.
The light of the sun shines bright on their faces.


#poetry #writing

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

Milton's Mythological Restructuring Of The Fall

Abstract
Concerning Milton's poetic license in his recasting of the myth of Genesis and the Fall of Man.

Paper
Milton's work, Paradise Lost, retells the story of the Garden of Eden as found in Genesis, the first book in the canon of Hebrew Scriptures known as the Torah or Bible. This story relates the tale of the fall from grace which anthropos, the original man, supposedly had early on in human history. Due to the popularity of the story, it is not surprising that Milton, an educated man and poet, chose it as the subject for one of his works. What is worthy of note, however, is the multitude of ways in which he deviated from the original story. For example, while it is true that many are under the misunderstanding that Satan plays an important role in the Genesis story of the Fall, he does not. He is, in fact, not mentioned even once in the Book of Genesis and yet Milton confers on him a large role. Milton was a man educated in the Hebrew Bible and language from a young age by a tutor his father had hired, Thomas Young (c.f., Hutchinson 8ff.) and so it was unlikely that Milton was unaware of his discrepancies. It seems that for the reader to fully understand Milton's theology of the Fall, one must understand first what was changed in the story from the original and second what theological significance the change has.

The original story of the fall of man is presented in Genesis 3:1-7 and is abbreviated below:

[T]he serpent said to the woman, "You will not die [for eating fruit from the tree which God has said not to eat from]; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." ... [S]he took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:4-6)

In this story, as presented in Genesis, the two are tempted by the forbidden fruit at the prompting of a serpent who is later punished for his role in the affair. Thus they fall from grace and are cast from Eden to "toil" (Genesis 3:17) for all their days until death, which after the fall is now an eminent reality in their lives (Genesis 3:19). Before any detailed exegesis is begun, one must consider the work being dealt with. Genesis is not an historical work designed to describe accurately the early world and its origins. Genesis is a mythological work which is designed to describe accurately the relationship of God to his earthly creation and more precisely the relationship of God to his chosen people---the Jews. The exegesis of genesis, then, should account for a mythological framework and allow for the historical inaccuracies typically found in mythological works.

As any mythology, the book of Genesis makes heavy use of a complex symbol system which the early Jews would have invested with particular meaning. The fact that this symbol system is not immediately at hand for the average modern reader has caused some problems. Many of these problems arise as a result of the unusual nature of the characters in the story. The characters associated with The Fall are Adam, Eve, and the serpent. Some investigation reveals that the Hebrew word Adam---which means man---is intentionally similar to the Hebrew word Adamah---which means earth, dust, or ground. Also, the character of Adam was used early in the work to refer to all men. It was not until later editors of the story began adding new parts that Adam became an individual rather than collective man. The original concept of the character of Adam, then, was meant to represent the race of men as a whole and their relation to the ground which is God's other creation. Genesis, for these reasons, is notoriously ambiguous about Adam's status. Eve, on the other hand, seems less entangled by conflicting portrayals. Her name, which is similar the Hebrew word for life, shows that she is quite literally "the mother of all living" (Genesis 3:20), but moreover, she is also blamed and punished by God harsher than Adam for her apparently more significant role in The Fall. Though Adam was there with her with she was tempted, and though he did nothing to stop it, he is still punished less severely than her. The third character, the serpent, has been the primary point of confusion and misunderstanding in the story. Nowhere does it say that this serpent is Satan. Satan does not appear in the Torah (The first 5 books of the Bible also known as the Law) at all. It is not until the Kethuvim (The collection of Hebrew books known also as the Writings---as distinct from the Torah [law] and the Nebi'im [prophets]), in 1 Chronicles 21:1, that his name is uttered. Yet, for all this, most modern readers see the serpent as Satan in serpent form. The cause of this is likely the much later references to Satan as being analogous to a serpent or dragon. Though later Jews made this symbolic connection, the writers and editors of Genesis did not. The serpent's mythological meaning must be found elsewhere. Many scholars now believe that rather than a symbol of whole evil, the serpent may have been a symbol of life. It is known that many, if not most, primitive peoples associate the serpent or snake with life and rebirth because of its ability to shed its own skin seasonally and begin anew. If the ancient writers of Genesis were also working under this mythological symbology, then the story of The Fall takes on new meaning. Rather than the serpent representing that which is purely evil, it begins to represent that which is a synthesis of good and evil. Genesis becomes a story of man's inevitable entrance into life which has its temptations and its shortcomings, but also its joys and its invaluable experiences. Through it all, the Fall tells us that though we may stray in life, God is ever-present and ever-protective when needed (c.f. Genesis 3:21 & 4:15). Thus the myth of the Fall establishes an understanding of the nature of God's relationship to us from the beginning as one of unconditional concern for His creations.

Milton, as he attempts to recast the myth for a later audience, brings with him certain assumptions---primarily from his Puritanical background---which color his interpretation of the story. It is apparent from reading Paradise Lost that Milton was trying to convey the same truths that were presented there. He recognized that these truths were not present in the objects of the story but rather in the meaning and symbology of the story:

"The claim for the truth of events is absolute: these things happened; for the truth of images---the poem's places and personages---less absolute, but still insistent that the qualities and potencies bodied forth in them are real" (qtd. in Madsen 18)

It was not apparent accuracy in objects he strove for, but symbolic accuracy in meaning. Milton foreshadows the dynamics of The Fall as early as the creation story when Adam and Eve are first shown to be distinct in their inclinations. Eve, upon her creation, is transfixed by her own mirror image (c.f. Paradise Lost IV:443 ff) in a pool of water nearby---reminiscent of the story of Narcissus--- while Adam, in Book VIII:277ff, begins his life mindful of God's role in this event. Interestingly, this prelapsarian relationship between Adam, Eve, and God is not a mirror image of the one presented in Genesis. Instead of an equal and non-hierarchical relationship between Adam and Eve, Milton begins with Adam as the dominant partner as established by Eve's remark concerning Adam:

... O thou for whom
And from whom I was formd flesh of thy flesh,
And without whom am to no end, my Guide
And Head ... (Paradise Lost IV:440-443)

This can be contrasted with Genesis' understanding of their relationship as equal until after the Fall when God pronounced that man "shall rule over" woman (Genesis 3:16) as punishment for her sin whereas in the prelapsarian state, they were equal (c.f. Genesis 1:27-28 & 3:18-23).

To his defense, Milton had the difficult task of presenting an Adam and Eve who seemed believable, poetic, and yet not superficial or lofty. They are the archetypal civilized savages---an oxymoron which can only sustain existence in theory. Portraying their roles and relationships as presented in the book of Genesis is flatly impossible. They are ripe with contradiction partly as a result of their own ambiguity and partly as a result of the brevity of their roles in that earlier story. Genesis gave no substantial dialogue and thus avoided Milton's pitfall. Still, it seems that Milton was aware of this problem. Only in a few places does the dialogue become too philosophical for a savage or too savage for a philosopher. And yet this tension does exist. Whereas in the prelapsarian state of Genesis they are sinless and full of God's glory, the prelapsarian state of Paradise Lost shows them to be inescapably drawn toward the Fall. As Waldock put it in his work Paradise Lost And Its Critics, "[t]here was no way for Milton of making [sic] the transition from sinlessness to sin perfectly intelligible" (Waldock 61). As mentioned earlier, Eve spends her opening scene transfixed by her vanity, but it cannot be ignored that Adam is no saint either. Shortly after his creation Adam, not content with what he has been given, asks for more:

Thou hast provided all things: but with mee
I see not who partakes. In solitude
What happiness, who can enjoy alone,
Or all enjoying, what contentment find? (Paradise Lost VIII:663-666)

Later, in talking with Raphael, the Angel, he begins to slander even the helpmate which he'd asked for by first telling of his weakness for Eve's "Transported touch" and rather than accepting blame for his weakness he blames either the Maker (God) or Eve herself as a temptress:

... but here
Farr otherwise, transported I behold,
Transported touch; here passion first I felt,
Commotion strange, in all enjoyments else
Superiour and unmov'd, here onely weake
Against the charm of Beauties powerful glance.
Or Nature faild in mee, and left some part
Not proof enough such Object to sustain,
Or from my side subducting, took perhaps
More then enough; at least on her bestow'd
Too much of Ornament, in outward shew
Elaborate, of inward less exact. (Paradise Lost VIII:528-539)

"[C]arnal desire is not a surprising sequel to Adam's uxoriousness" according to Kelley in her work, This Great Argument (Kelley 149). Adam and Eve, in Milton's work, already possess those errant tendencies with contribute to the occurrence of the Fall. If fact, Adam and Eve have, by the very nature of possessing these tendencies, already fallen. They were created fallen. Here Milton's theology becomes evident. The Genesis story does not parallel this sentiment. In Genesis, Adam makes no such statements about Eve, nor does he ask for more from God than he is given. God's wisdom is sufficient to account for all of their needs (c.f. Genesis 2:18). Furthermore, Adam's understanding of his own urges is moralized in Milton's work in a way that does not mimic Genesis:

Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:24-25)

In the above passage man and woman specifically do not consider this a cause of a strange "[c]ommotion." Milton's Puritanical and moralistic upbringing has crept into his work.

Satan's presence in the story thrusts into it a particularly interesting dynamic. He is shown as a fallen angel full of contempt and false pride. It is he, in Paradise Lost, who tempts Eve when she wanders away from Adam. By appealing to her vanity he seduced her into partaking of the forbidden fruit. Thus some would say she was felled rather than fallen by the serpent-disguised Satan. Having left a state of grace, she appealed to Adam to join her and he, not willing to give her up, did just that by eating the fruit as well. The Fall is complete. Madsen, in his work From Shadowy Types To Truth, describes Adam's fall as follows:

When he determines to throw in his lot with Eve, he has seen his image in her, just as Satan saw his image in Sin, and he turns from God to Eve, as Eve had turned from Adam to her own shadow in the water. (Madsen 104)

The question must then turn to who or what these figures (Adam, Eve, and Satan as the serpent) are meant to represent in Milton's mythological restructuring. One theory which seems supported by the text is the idea that while Adam and Eve may be symbolic of men and women universally, the other beings---angels, demons, and specifically Satan---are physical representations of God's hand in action. Thus the Fall, which in Milton's work is inevitable and expected, becomes God's will. Satan, Raphael and others in the story act as tangible markers of God's intangible work. Through Satan, God frees man to live and learn. Through Raphael, the reader sees God's ever-present protection and help when man needs it most. As if to make this point himself, Milton includes the following passage:

... so doth the Prince of Hell
And his Adherents, that with so much ease
I suffer them to enter and possess
A place so heav'nly, ...
And [they] know not that I call'd and drew them thither
My Hell-hounds, to lick up the draff and filth
Which mans polluting Sin with taint hath shed
On what was pure, till cramm'd and gorg'd, nigh burst
With suckt and glutted offal, at one sling
Of thy victorious Arm, well-pleasing Son,
Both Sin, and Death, and yawning Grave at last
Through Chaos hurld, obstruct the mouth of Hell
For ever, and seal up his ravenous Jawes. (Paradise Lost X:621-637)

Here God is saying that not only is it through His will that they exist, but moreover, that they exist specifically to do His bidding. As James Sims explained it in his work, The Bible In Milton's Epics, "even these horrible monsters, unknown to themselves, fulfill His purposes" (Sims 157).

Paradise Lost is a story which tells of the relationship between God and His creations. It talks of God as ever-present in the lives of men, ever-caring for them, and even in punishment giving them the gift of life. Is this so different from the story told in Genesis? Though the characters, the crimes, and the plot are utterly different, the story remains substantially unchanged. The myth and its message are brought to a new audience using images that will convey to them the symbolic meaning which the Genesis images conveyed to the early Jewish readers. Milton seems to have succeeded in his endeavor. The Genesis story is retold and his changes, upon analysis, do betray his motives. The myth is recast.

Works Cited:

Other Works Consulted:


#termpapers #academics #poetry #religion #writing

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), Not a bad poet for an American

We never know we go,--when we are going
  We jest and shut the door;
Fate following behind us bolts it,
  And we accost no more.

#poetry #quotes

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

Milton's Satan - Lucifer's Symbolic Meanings in Paradise Lost

Abstract:
Concerning Milton's portral of Satan in his work, Paradise Lost. I wrote this paper for an English class called Milton and Spenser. It makes the argument that Milton may have been trying to offer insight into our Western understanding of Hero and Villian with the Satan figure.

Paper:
In Milton's Paradise Lost, the character of Satan plays an interesting, if sometimes, ambiguous, part in the whole of the mythos being related. He is, at once, the epitome of the struggling individual fighting against oppression, the dark figure culled from our own religious experiences, and the cynical yet almost innocuous troublemaker who seeks to betray God while inadvertently doing His bidding. The question is begged by the text: Who is Milton's Satan? Most people are somewhat familiar with the biblical Satan---the Satan character as found in the Hebrew and Greek scriptures sometimes called the Old and New Testament. In general, people also seem familiar with the later interpretations of the character as a pitchfork-wielding, horned and tailed, shoulder-sitting tempter. In fact the typical reader of Milton's work is likely to be familiar with many different and often conflicting views of the Satan character. It is this historical and literary ambiguity which helps make Satan so delightful to the Miltonic reader. Satan, in Paradise Lost, is a character whose symbolic meaning, it will be argued, is manifold. He is the portrayal of a theological concept as well as a political ideal. Gerald J. Schiffhorst, in his work John Milton, discusses Milton's propensity to assign symbolic meaning to his characters.

Spenser was Milton's principle literary mentor, as he acknowledges in Areopagitica, and the first to treat epic material allegorically. [And b]ecause [Milton's] personified characters and events stand for moral, religious, or political ideas, he was able to combine classical and Christian elements in a single poem as symbols of truths beyond the literal level of the story [sic]. (Schiffhorst 70)

Certainly Milton was capable of imbuing Satan with even more plurality of meaning, and it is likely he did so, however the above two metaphorical roles---that of a theological and a political symbology--- stand out as significant and reoccurring themes within the text.

Before a study of Satan's metaphorical or allegorical meaning is begun, it would behoove the student to first look at the simple, literary, plot driven Satan as portrayed in the actual events of the story behind Paradise Lost. In this strictly literal interpretive sense, Satan plays a huge role. Created by God, Satan, an archangel in Heaven, becomes jealous and discontent with God's rule and His Son's glory. For these reasons he chooses to revolt against God and His faithful after inciting a large group of compatriots to join him. Once defeated by an angelic army of the remaining faithful, he and his fellow revolutionaries are cast into hell---a place of unending torment. Here the plot thickens. God, upon seeing His heavenly creation marred, seeks to repair the damage done by building another world. His reasoning in this is best left to His own words:

But, lest his heart exalt him in the harm
Already done, to have dispeopled Heaven,
My damage fondly deemed, I can repair
That detriment, if such it be to lose
Self-lost; and in a moment will create
Another world, out of one man a race
Of men innumerable, there to dwell,
Not here; till, by degrees of merit raised,
They open to themselves at length the way
Up hither, under long obedience tried;
And Earth be changed to Heaven, and Heaven to Earth,
One kingdom, joy and union without end. (Paradise Lost Book VII, 150-161)

Suddenly Satan is given (or so he believes) another indignity by God. This new creation, too, will be a source for jealousy and hatred against the God from which Satan was and still is rebelling. Satan then schemes to destroy God's new creation by tainting it with the seed of doubt and hubris to which Satan himself and all his horde had already fallen. The two separate stories of Satan's fall and Man's fall become parallel. This parallelism runs its course through the work until the end when the differences appear sharply to the reader. Satan does eventually tempt Man and Man does fall, just as Satan did before Him, yet Man, unlike Satan, learns from the error. Adam and Eve, in fact, suppliantly apologize to God for their transgression against Him---a step taken by neither Satan nor his crew. The story ends not with Satan centered in the conflict but with Man, as portrayed by Adam and Eve, moving into a new life in God's service. In a literal sense, Satan is the antagonist who drives the plot with his machinations. In a non-literal sense, he is far more.

Satan is the great adversary. He is the archfiend who we are to loath for his rebellious nature. Many have argued that this negative and contemptible Satan is non-existent within the text. To justify this position, those persons often refer to Satan as the hero figure of Paradise Lost. Ralph Waterbury Condee describes this heroic Satan in his work Structure in Milton's Poetry: From the Foundation to the Pinnacles.

I propose that Satan is not the hero of Paradise Lost, but that he is in a very significant way one of the heroes; ...Satan fades and Adam emerges as a hero during the course of the poem. Underling this fading and emergence are concepts of heroism which Milton presents, juxtaposes, and brings to fruition, as he moves through the story of Adam's creation, fall, redemption, and exile. (Condee 7)

He is most certainly correct in that assessment just as are all others who proclaim the characteristics of Satan to be categorizable as the Heroic ideal. Satan is a hero figure in the vein of all great Western epics. That fact is undeniable to anyone reading the text. To suggest, however, that merely being the stereotypical Western ideal of a hero makes a character positive is to assume a universal truth that Milton is pointedly showing to be false. Milton portrays him as the adversary to a powerful and, by Satan's account, tyrannical God.

...[Satan was] aspiring
To set himself in glory above his peers,
He trusted to have equalled the Most High,
If he opposed, and with ambitious aim
Against the throne and monarchy of God,
Raised impious war in Heaven and battle proud,
With vain attempt. (Paradise Lost Book I, 38-44)

Satan fights the valiant fight against this Oppressor and yet ultimately loses to Him. Some might argue that Satan knew all along that he could not win---but he fought and that is heroic. The reader might say so, at least. Milton, it seems, had another idea of heroism in mind though he never outwardly defines it. What, then, is it?

Milton defines heroism negatively by contrasting it with what it is not. It is not, as Satan repeatedly reveals in Paradise Lost, physical valor or military adventure. The very fact that Satan is given some traditional heroic attributes reveals Milton's dissatisfaction with the heroic tradition of the epic. (Schiffhorst 70)

Milton, rather than accepting standard interpretations of the heroic figure, chooses to reinvent the ideal by first showing the flaws in the older ideal, hence he chose to portray the hero, Satan, in a traditionally villainous role---that is, working against God. Milton creates for his audience a character who is at once someone we want to appreciate as heroic and valorous and someone we desperately want to see lose. For Milton, it appears that a hero is not that which has been described in Western literature for centuries, but rather someone who would defy that stereotype for God. Milton, repeatedly throughout the text, explains his reasoning in this. This is evident, for instance, in his punishment to Adam when God proclaims that "Because [Adam] hast hearkened to the voice of [his] wife, / And eaten of the tree, concerning which / [God] charged [him], saying, Thou shalt not eat thereof," Adam was punished. Adam, in choosing to be with his wife was acting as heroic as Satan ever had, but he was reminded of his duty to God first. Likewise, Satan is acting constantly in opposition to God, when, if he were to be a Miltonic hero, he would follow God regardless of heroic inclinations. Satan acts as God's adversary and by virtue of that fact he is not a hero but rather the Satan of Old and New Testament fame used in Paradise Lost to represent the theological heroic ideal by opposition.

The character of Satan also works within the poem to achieve a politically metaphorical objective. Before discussing this Miltonic objective, it is important to be familiar with the socio-historical environment out of which Milton is coming. Milton existed in a time of civil war and internal strife in England. In essence, there was a strong movement away from English governmental loyalty towards personal freedom. The Anglicans (the official church of England) sought to impose their doctrine onto other sects such as the Puritans (of which Milton was a member) and the government itself sought to impose its authority onto the lives of its citizenry farther than many of the citizenry wished. Nobles and Kings were impeached and in some cases killed. Religious wars began cropping up, such as the first and second Bishops' Wars in 1639 and 1640. Ireland rebelled against England in 1641. English civil war began in 1642. Nowhere was safe from this unrest. Marston Moor, Newbury, Naseby, and even Oxford and London were torn apart by warfare. Milton chose sides. He wrote his anti-prelatical pamphlets in 1641-1642, shortly after the Bishops' wars, as answer to propaganda literature from the opposing side in those wars. Later, Milton would go a step further. He took an interest not only in the ecclesiastical in-fighting but in the political wars as well. His works Defensio pro Populo Anglicano and Defensio Secunda, his first and second defense of the English people, published in 1651 and 1654 respectively, defended the drastic actions of his fellow revolutionaries---specifically in the regicide of King Charles I. Clearly, Milton saw himself as a revolutionary fighting against an oppressive ruler. Thirteen years later, in 1667, Paradise Lost was published detailing a Satan figure in much the same position as Milton himself. Free will became the paramount ideal that Satan represented. It could be argued that the free will being expressed in the story is a theological concept rather than a political one, but since it is Milton's political problems which help drive the creation of Paradise Lost, it is more likely that this free will is a refutation of royal and Anglican ecclesiastical authority more than a continuation of the ages old Augustine/Palagius theological free will debate.

The groundwork for Satan as representative of the struggle for free will is laid in his opening speech.

And what I should be, all but less than he
Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reigh secure; and, in my choice,
To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell... (Paradise Lost Book I, 257-262)

Satan uses such words as "free" and "choice" in the face of a God who is described here as being in charge, not because of His divine glory, but because of His divine might ("...Thunder hath made [Him] great....") G. Rostrevor Hamilton, in his work Hero or Fool: A Study of Milton's Satan, addresses the issue of free will in heaven and why Satan rebelled against God.

...we may question whether the angels ought to be quite so completely happy as they are. They are not allowed to forget the merciless doom that awaits them if they fail in the test of prompt obedience. (Hamilton 36)

How bold and ironic that Milton, a Puritanical devotee, chose to represent the Puritanical movement with its own mythology's worst villain! And yet he did. Satan is no more or less a revolutionary than Milton himself. In fact, it is Satan's character who so poignantly expresses that which Milton would have wanted the world to know of himself against the powers-that-be.

...What though the field be lost?
All is not lost--the unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield
And what is else not to be overcome?
That glory never shall his wrath or might
Extort from me. (Paradise Lost Book I, 105-111)

So too does Milton express this self-same sentiment in his political pamphlets. Milton and Satan are not so different in this respect. Satan is purposefully represented as the more tangible, the more real, of the spiritual hosts. He is whom we are to identify with. Hamilton states, "[h]e wins our admiration the more firmly because he is intimately real, while the inhabitants of Heaven are remote and strange" (Hamilton 39). And it is he who preaches freedom. In his speech to the assembled fallen angels in hell, he talks of God and the punishment he dealt them.

This place our dungeon, not our safe retreat
Beyond his potent arm, to live exempt
From Heaven's high jurisdiction, in new league
Banded against his throne, but to remain
In strictest bondage, though thus far removed,
Under th' inevitable curb, reserved
His captive multitude. For he, to be sure,
In height or depth, still first and last will reign
Sole king, and of his kingdom lose no part
By our revolt, but over Hell extend
His empire, and with iron sceptre rule
Us here, as with his golden those in Heaven.
What sit we then projecting peace and war?
War hath determined us and foiled with loss
Irreparable; terms of peace yet none
Vouchsafed or sought; for what peace will be given
To us enslaved, but custody severe,
And stripes and arbitrary punishment
Inflicted? (Paradise Lost, Book II, 317-335)

Again certain words stand out. "Dungeon", "bondage", "captive", "rule", and "enslaved" all seem addressable to Satan's issue of freedom and free will. This pattern of diction can be followed throughout the text. Satan is Milton's ultimate rebel and that fact shapes Milton's portrayal of him.

One cannot, however, escape the inherent problems there. If Milton were trying to show Satan as an anti-hero, in some ways he would be working against his own cause. Yet it is apparent that by placing Satan in the exact same position that he and the other revolutionaries were in, he must've intended to justify his own position. Satan's character may have been able to accomplish both goals well. Truly Satan was an anti-hero. Milton may well have been in the camp of Satan the rebel, but not of Satan the rebel against God. That he could not abide and the story bears that out. John M. Steadman in his work Moral Fiction in Milton and Spenser, writes:

Milton's poem cannot be reduced to a single epic stereotype or generic formula. On the contrary, within the framework of the neoclassical tradition it comprehends a wide range of other literary traditions. (Steadman 147)

Satan is not meant to be understood in only one way. Milton deliberately, it appears, portrays several different and sometimes incompatible Satans. He includes patterns of Hebrew understandings of heroism and Greek understandings of free will with the ideals and struggles of his own rebellious time. Whenever we may think we've begun to understand Satan, we are stopped by his own inconsistencies. We are forced to consider every aspect of him. As Hamilton put it:

...Satan in imagination differs from Satan in idea. In the abstract we may conceive him, whether actual or symbolic, as wholly evil, the negation of all good, but, when we try to imagine him, it will not be surprising if all kinds of elements---foolish, virtuous, heroic, human---begin to enter in. (Hamilton 8)

He is a contridiction. His own demeanor, in places, alters even the heroic qualities we wish to prescribe him.

Satan's heroic qualities are enhanced by this strain of something approaching tenderness in his character. We see it again when he is moved towards pity, and even love, by the first sight of Adam and Eve in their unsuspecting happiness, and once more when, on the very point of tempting Eve, he is disarmed for a while by her innocence. His courage and will-power are not the expression of a nature irrevocably hardened or incapable of gentle emotion. (Hamilton 25)

So finally we ask again "Who is this Satan?" the answer is that he is all these things. He is as multifaceted as the understandings of him in the real world. He is both hero and villain. He is both a pitier of the non-free and pitiable for his lack of freedom. He is both Milton and Milton's nemesis. To limit him to a specific, single definition would not only be a bane to Satan himself, but to Milton who preached a gospel of freedom through him.

Work's Cited


#termpapers #academics #poetry #religion #writing

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit

Poetry

I want to get published. I should subscribe to a poetry journal for a few months to get the feel for how it's done and what they expect. Gotta keep the brain active!


#poetry #writing

Share and Discuss

twitter facebook email reddit